PITTSFORD, NY (WKBW) - After the team’s first scheduled day off from practice, the Buffalo Bills got back on the field Tuesday morning for Day 5 of training camp. The Bills saw the return of one of their best players, and some movement throughout the depth chart.
Seven observations from the day of work:
1) Dareus back on the field
- It only took a couple of practices, but the Bills got starting defensive tackle Marcell Dareus back on the practice field Tuesday. To me, it was the right approach because you don’t want to mess around with a 330-pound defensive tackle having to think about his hamstring all the time. In the grand scheme of things, two days of practice spent on the sidelines won’t be what prevents him from becoming a great player for the Bills this season. Dareus worked in with the first-team defense for much of the day, getting a play off every now and again during team drills. His impact this season is paramount to the Bills healing what ailed them during the 2016 season — defensive woes, and particularly against stopping the run late in the season. Just from what he said publicly on Tuesday, it seems like his head is in the right place. However, as Dareus has said in the past, words aren’t going to do him anything, he has to prove with his actions that he’s the type of player and professional they want him to be. If he can clear that hurdle, the sky is the limit for someone with as much talent as he has.
2) #FreeLoganThomas is real
- He was admitted to the #Free club early into the offseason, but Logan Thomas is now the charter member of the #Free club from here on out. Why you might ask? It’s not every day you happen upon a 6-foot-6, 250-plus pound tight end that runs like a gazelle, moves around as well as any tight end as you’ll see, and has the ball skills to make him a dependable target in the offense. All of that was on display on Tuesday, as Thomas continued a really good training camp through the first five days. The big question about Thomas is about whether he can actually block well enough to be trusted in a bigger type of role, or even how well he’s taking to the offense and the mental side of the game. However, with all that raw ability, I’d keep him on the active roster and carve out around 5-to-10 plays a game that he’s involved in some sort of capacity.
3) Tyrod struggles once again
- The Bills were probably hoping for a bit of a better day from Tyrod Taylor than what we saw on Sunday morning, but we actually wound up seeing much of the same during the Day 5 practice. He started off the day of practice fairly well with a touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins on his first play. After that, there wasn’t much to write home about for the Bills starting quarterback. He was just missing his targets once again, but not all of it was his fault this time around. While he did miss some targets, the offensive line in front of him really didn’t give him a lot of time to operate in the pocket — with both Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson making their presence felt throughout the day. Some of you might be wondering about Nathan Peterman now, but the rookie really hasn’t done enough to warrant anything but reps with the third-team offense at this point in time.
4) Dion Dawkins has his best day yet
- Through the first four days of practice, it’s been a bit of a rough go for the second-round pick and offensive tackle Dion Dawkins. Just making the switch over to right tackle, Dawkins has been slow out of the gate and failed to discern himself from Jordan Mills. However, as I warned around those first few days, it was way too early into camp to write the rookie off. Following their first full day off, Dawkins looked refreshed, and as confident as we’ve seen him to this point. He looked great in both of his one-on-one reps, with the last of the two coming against a Shaq Lawson spin move attempt. Dawkins didn’t fall for the move, planted his hands into the back of Lawson mid-spin, and the pass rusher couldn’t go anywhere. The rookie’s work in team drills showed through as well, being one of the only bright spots along the offensive line on Tuesday.
5) Vallejo getting an extended look
- On Sunday when the Bills gave Lorenzo Alexander a few plays off from team drills, we saw them work rookie sixth-round pick Tanner Vallejo in with the first-team defense at strong side linebacker. On Tuesday, they took it a step further by giving Alexander a “veteran’s day off” to rest and gave all the first-team reps to Vallejo. The Bills have liked what they’ve seen from him so far both on the field, and how he’s prepared off the field, too — and head coach Sean McDermott made it a point to go over that when he met with reporters ahead of practice. Vallejo, at this point anyway, has completely passed fifth-round Matt Milano on the depth chart, and is firmly in consideration to not only make the 53-man roster but to even have a role in 2017. It’s still very early and we need to see him in a game setting, but the Bills love what they’ve seen from the sixth-rounder so far.
6) A battle brewing at second-team defensive end
- If you’ve read all four of the previous editions of ‘7 observations,’ you’ll recognize the name, Eddie Yarbrough. The defensive end has come in and played extremely well to begin training camp, making flash plays every single day. Now, the Bills have taken notice of how well he’s been playing. To start things off, Yarbrough worked exclusively with the second-team defense throughout the practice — a promotion from his normal spot on the third-team defense. Yarbrough took the place of Max Valles, who really faded into the background through the first four practices. Valles took exception to being put on the third-team by way of responding with a big performance of his own on Tuesday. Valles put together a pair of sacks on the same three-play set during one of the early sets of team drills. The two are inevitably battling to be the fourth defensive end on the 53-man roster, after Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson, and Ryan Davis. I expect this Yarbrough/Valles one to be a fun one as camp unravels.
7) Don’t sleep on Jerel Worthy
- Past starters Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, the Bills have mostly looked to second-year player and former third-round pick Adolphus Washington to be the main backup. However, Jerel Worthy might just be giving Washington a run for his money. Through the first five days, Washington has not made enough big plays to think that he’s a slam dunk choice ahead of someone like Worthy. The veteran Worthy has shown a consistent ability to penetrate the backfield, and he showed it again on Tuesday. He floored it and got right past John Miller — almost instantly — on two separate occasions. The first of which stopped a rushing attempt in the backfield, and then the later on went for a sack. Even dating back to last year, I felt Worthy’s play should have given him some more time on the field, but it never came to fruition. With everything being up in the air with a new coaching staff, Worthy could end up getting that chance with more good days.
Day 5 MVP: DE Jerry Hughes
- I didn’t mention him much throughout the seven observations, but Hughes was dominant throughout the day. He got to the quarterback for a sack on three separate occasions, flashing the speed and bending ability that makes him such a talented player. This is a good start for him, and for what the Bills hope will be a bounce back season.
Day 5 LVP: G John Miller
- The third-year right guard has had four really good days of practice in a row, but Tuesday was not one in the same as the beginning of camp. Miller really struggled out of his stance, as did most of the offensive line with the exception of Dawkins, Richie Incognito, and Ryan Groy.
Up Next: Day 6 of training camp on Wednesday, August 2 at 8:45 am at St. John Fisher College. The practice is open to the public.
Miss the first part of practice on Day 5? Watch it all below: